Monday, May 3, 2010

May Day

Annapolis has a wonderful tradition. Every year on the first day of May, residents and merchants create baskets of flowers and hang them on their front door. Imagine my delight when I discoverded this custom while attending college here. It's one of the things that made me fall in love with Annapolis.

Later when I was in graduate school and therefore extra busy, I thought I'd take an afternoon off and invite my daughter (who was in grade six) to go with me to look at the flowers.

We both love flowers and I thought it would be an opportunity to spend some time together. But she had a quiz scheduled and when I mentioned leaving school a couple hours early, she started sobbing.
So I said, "no problem," thought I, we'd go another year.
I went on with my day, school and work and busy, busy, busy, when I got a call from Valerie's principal. She had burst into tears in class and her very kind teacher, Laurell Leith, had coaxed the awful truth out of her. She'd had an opportunity to skip school with her mother (who she had not seen as much in the past year) and she'd declined. Now, at school, quiz done, she regretted her decision.

And so our May Day tradition began with the kindness of Val's teacher both in getting her to confide her woes and in giving her permission to spend some found time with her mother. Now we meet after school or work, we park downtown (any Annapolis resident can parallel park in her sleep) and walk the uneven brick streets gaze at the beautiful flowers, smell the late lilacs or first roses (depending on the year) and enjoy.

a clothing store picks a perfect container for May Day flowers

We poke our noses into the charming shops downtown and peek into the even more charming, hidden gardens on streets shady and sunny.

Then we find somewhere to share a pot of strong, hot English tea. We've kept it up the tradition for fifteen years in one way or another.

When Val was away at college, I sent her pictures of the best baskets.
One year she found me a poster for my classroom displaying Annapolis' May Day baskets.
If it is pouring down rain, we make tea at home and remember.

This year, Valerie brought Clare, her backpack, Care and our friend Laura.

 Because it was a Saturday and our lovely town had many visitors, it took us an hour to get to town and find a parking place.

Prizes are given!
By then Clare was hungry, but she didn't complain at all. She loves looking at things.

We didn't stay as long this year because it was hot and because of concern for Clare and for Care who is due to have a baby any day now. We missed all of you who couldn't come with us.

But while we were there, all together, visiting our boxwood-scented city with its beautiful doors and incomparable architecture, traipsing over uneven streets  and standing on tiptoes to catch glimpses of the hidden gardens or Severn and its creeks, we saw some gorgeous flowers.

To our surprise and delight, we were given a glimpse of a private garden that I've peeked into with longing since my college days in Annapolis.

They were kind enough to offer us their bathroom and iced tea! Oh Annapolis, I love you with all my heart and I always, always will.
We came back home, cooled down and enjoyed a real English cream tea.

flowers from my own garden on a table set for tea


  1. What a delightful tradition!! I too love Annapolis, though I must confess have never gone down for May Day. Next year I am taking my girls and copying your tradition! (also as much as we spend time downtown, can I tell you I can't parallel park... if Scott isn't there to do the parking I tend to do A LOT of walking) :-)

  2. What a beautiful tradition! It was one I was thinking of joining when my children are a little older. Putting together a May Day Flower basket that is.

  3. Scott and I took a walk around Annapolis on Sunday, specifically to look at the May baskets. This is a favorite tradition of ours as well.

  4. these are the most beautiful photos. I am sorry I missed it- next May Day :)